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HUMAN RATIONALIZATION and SPIRITUAL MALPRACTICE©

P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminders

Human Rationalization and Spiritual Malpractice©

by

Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Have you ever worked yourself into a tizzy over some little thing, or perhaps gone the other way and convinced yourself that whatever you were doing or not doing was acceptable conduct?

I know for me personally, my emotions or desires will frequently lead my mind in either of those directions if I don’t filter the process through a litmus test of God’s Reality or carefully compare the tint and color to His Palette of Truth.

This is very important, because the rationalization capabilities of the human mind (if left to its own devices and not Spiritually guided) will all too often produce color blind results.

Most all of us have heard and/or used the following rationalizations:

“Everybody’s doing it.”  (The “Aw, gee, Mom!” argument that somehow large numbers of participation (whether real or perceived) make it right.

“No harm, no foul.”  (Well, God didn’t strike me dead, so what I did must not have been too bad.)

“Live and let live.”  (He doesn’t bother me; I won’t bother him.)

“It’s not my place to say anything.”  (It’s not in my job description.)

Recently, I listened to a dialog of pros and cons between members of a professional listserv to which I belong through my estate planning law practice.  The question raised by one member was whether or not there could be legal consequences (maybe even criminal charges) brought against a client who married a third party just to obtain social security benefits as a “surviving spouse” when that party dies.  This marriage of convenience was being considered, because the inquiring member’s client and the client’s real “spouse” were homosexual and not entitled to social security surviving spouse benefits from one another.

Within a short time, the dialog grew into a discussion with several members participating and quickly became an argument as to the “rights” of homosexuals with one side of the argument being that since 4-10% of the population (the accuracy of those numbers was also debated) is now homosexual, they should be recognized and given the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.  If that were to occur, the argument went, there would be no need to fabricate a marriage of convenience to obtain social security surviving “spouse” benefits.

One of the elements of that argument was the human rationalization that:  “Everybody’s doing it, so we should accept it and change our laws to accommodate it.”  (It’s the “Aw, gee, Mom, all my friends are doing it, so that makes it an okay thing to do” argument.)

Though as humans we may want to rationalize in that direction and reach out to others in love as a commendable action, we have to remember that God is the One who provides the rules for living.  For Him, the argument that “everyone’s doing it” or that the percentages of participation have increased will not cause Him to alter His holy ways.

Perhaps the two best known examples of this in the Bible are:  “Noah and the Ark” and “Sodom and Gomorrah” found in Genesis chapters 6 and 19, respectively.  Though virtually “everyone was doing it” (living a life style contrary to God’s teachings), the known world, except for Noah and his family, was destroyed in the first instance, and in the second, the entire population of two cities and the surrounding valleys, except for Lot’s family, were destroyed because of their iniquities.

In the latter, even Abraham used human rationalization during his conversation with God seeking to save those cities if just a few righteous men could be found (beginning with fifty and moving down to ten).  Though God said he would spare the cities under those circumstances, it was not for the sake of the multitudes violating His laws, but for a few who might be found striving to live as God required.

A few years back (possibly even ten or more), I read an article in the Los Angeles Times arguing that the Bible needed to be re-written in order to be more tolerant of mankind’s society and culture.  The writer’s position was actually one step past rationalization.  Knowing that the Bible could not in any way be reasoned or interpreted as approval or acceptance of what the world has become, his solution was for mankind to write their own rules.  

In other words, if the Creator and Ruler of the universe doesn’t suit your fancy, then declare and reason that you have the right and ability to be the creator and rule maker yourself.   Such is perhaps man’s most egregious rationalization.

The second rationalization phrase set forth early in this P.E.A.R. is closely related to the first and need not be addressed separately.  However, the third and fourth present a slightly different twist to the human mind’s rationalization process – somewhat like the flip side of the same coin.  They’re similar, yet different from the first two.

“Live and let live.”  (He doesn’t bother me; I won’t bother him.)

“It’s not my place to say anything.”  (It’s not in my job description.)

The reasoning of the mind on these is basically this:  if we can’t change something into what we want it to be, just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.  Don’t get involved.

When it comes to the Bible and God’s teachings, this is what I call Spiritual Malpractice.

Ken Sande in his book “The Peace Maker” puts it this way.

Any doctor who diagnoses cancer but fails to report it to a patient would be guilty of malpractice.  After all, a patient can be properly treated only after the disease has been identified.  Sin [all disobedience of God] works in the same way; left undiagnosed and untreated, it causes grief and spiritual deterioration – leading ultimately to death [eternal separation from God].

Every believer and follower of Christ is charged or entrusted (somewhat like a doctor) with a biblical Hippocratic oath of ethical conduct to save as many in the world from the disease of sin as they possibly can.  It is part of their Christian job description whether they want to admit it or not.  If they remain silent, they commit Spiritual malpractice and will be held accountable for their inaction on judgment day.

* * * * *

Avoiding the errors of human rationalization (trying to make Reality into something we’re willing to accept) rather than honoring God’s Word, or stepping forward to be ambassadors of Christ and proclaimers of His Kingdom are not easy to do.  Both will bring consternation from the world and charges of being intolerant, judgmental and self righteous.

So, what’s the answer?

Do it anyway, because that’s what God commands.  Believers are to be watchmen and to warn those who are dying and if the believer fails to do so, the blood of those who could have been saved but were not will be on that believer’s hands.  (Ezekiel 3:16-21). 

Even exposing the darkness (speaking against conduct occurring contrary to the light of God’s Word) is an affirmative requirement.  If action is not taken, a tacit acceptance or approval may be inferred.  (Eph. 5:7-16)

Always speak the truth in love, however, with the goal of salvation not condemnation.  Those who hear what you say may still take offense, and you may even feel that you bumbled the opportunity.  Yet, the Holy Spirit will use it for good and perhaps be the beginning of a seed that leads to Life.

The bottom line is this: Whatever you do, don’t engage in human rationalization or Spiritual malpractice when it comes to God’s Word and commandments.  Be the messenger and take the ridicule just as Christ did as that is your purpose on this earth.

Have a great week!  (and to my family, love Dad)

Bob Alderman

083105 – updated 8/26/08

Get Off the Treadmill ©

P.E.A.R.sPeriodic Encouragement And Reminders
Get Off the Treadmill ©
by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Last night, I was re-reading a book by Larry Julian (“God is My CEO”) on business planning and development. (Larry is a consultant who specializes in leadership development and has worked with both small and large companies, including: 3M, AT&T, and General Mills.)

In the introduction, Larry shared the following story:

I was recently asked to conduct a leadership program for a group of San Francisco sales executives.  As part of my preparation, the leader asked me to weave in a module on stress management.  During the program, I discovered that the entire group was on the brink of a collective nervous breakdown.  They were under relentless pressure to produce results.  All felt as if they were strapped to a treadmill whose speed kept increasing.

I wanted to help them find the root cause of their situation.  The group however, wanted me only to equip them with skills so I could help them run their treadmill faster and better.  In essence they wanted me to teach them how to go down the wrong path more efficiently.

The bottom-line had become their god.  It was insatiable.  No matter how hard they worked, it was never enough, nor could it ever be enough.  These executives were talented, intelligent, capable people who somewhere along the way, lost focus on what is truly meaningful and important.  They had become slaves to bottom-line pressure and, as a result, become professionally ineffective and personally burnt out.

* * * * *

I, for one, know it’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace and demands of life and feel the tug to seek out a quick-fix or some magic process that’s promised to produce more clients and more money.

There are, in fact, many organizations in the business and professional world that offer seminars and coaching programs each of which promise to teach systems and methods aimed at creating financial success.  Some are based on marketing techniques; some emphasize internal restructuring of the business or professional practice; some suggest personal testing for employees, and some recommend special customer or client interview processes.

Though each of them can serve as useful tools, they often become just another parallel target point (or as Larry Julian says, another god) used as a stepping stone toward what still remains their ultimate god – of bottom-line financial success.

These “solutions” don’t solve the underlying problem, however.  They may help us continue down the wrong path more efficiently, but…, it’s still with the wrong bottom-line focus on a treadmill that keeps right on turning.

The Bible, (as usual) sums it up best with these words: “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”  2 Peter 2:19b

Thus, whether it’s financial “success” and/or the systems and processes to pursue more of “it” at greater speed and “efficiency”, it will not remove our anxiety or stress if we stay enslaved to them as our gods.

Another good reminder is Psalms 46:10 – “Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God.”

Charles Stanley says in his book, “Success God’s Way”.

Friend, I wouldn’t swap places with anybody in the world who has money, notoriety, or power but doesn’t have God.  What he has won’t matter in the least five hundred years from now.

For I have never met a financially wealthy person who wasn’t a little fearful at the prospect of losing his wealth, or who didn’t desire to amass even more wealth [or to keep running on whatever treadmill he had placed himself] ‘just in case’.

[On the other hand] the God focused and spiritually mature person is freed from striving.  He lives in a state of steady confidence [off the treadmill] born of a relationship with God – while at the same time living in the hope of greater and greater things that God will unfold, reveal and bestow.”

Have a great week!

Bob Alderman

(and to my family, Love Dad)

original writing 4/13/04 – republished 2017/01/11

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr..  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com